Two games, two wins, one day. That’s pretty rad. A few hours after coming back from a four-run deficit in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays, the Yankees came back from a much more modest one-run deficit (twice) before walking off with a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
Remember what I said earlier about needing unexpected contributions to make a serious run at a playoff spot? This game is exactly what I was talking about. Toronto southpaw Mark Buehrle, who has been mostly awful against the Yankees in his long career, held New York in check for the first 6.2 innings before surrendering a game tying solo homer. Who hit the homer? Utility infielder Jayson Nix. Contribution: Unexpected.
Nix didn’t stop there though. Two innings later, with the winning run on third, he provided the walk-off single to left against another veteran left-hander, this time Darren Oliver. Mark Reynolds deserves props for setting up the rally with a leadoff walk, as does pinch-runner Ichiro Suzuki for stealing third with one out. An Eduardo Nunez sacrifice bunt was mixed in there as well. Between drawing a two-out walk in advance of Chris Stewart‘s go-ahead homer in Game One and both the game-tying homer and walk-off single in Game Two, Nix had one helluva day at the plate. This guy, man. He’s just a baseball player. That’s what he is.
Phinally, A Good Start
These last few weeks and months have been pretty disastrous for Phil Hughes, so bad that the Yankees had won just four (!) of his previous 16 starts coming into Tuesday night. Most of that was his fault, of course. It’s not like Phil has been lights out this year. Needless to say, getting six innings of two-run ball — no homers! — out of him in the second game of the doubleheader was a pleasant surprise.
Rajai Davis created the first run with his legs while Vernon Wells contributed to the second with his defense. Davis singled, stole second, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch in the first inning. Wells was unable to cut off a Munenori Kawasaki gapper that rolled to the wall for a triple in the fifth. Obviously the ball into the gap is on Hughes, but I surprised to see it get all the way to wall. A sac fly brought home Kawasaki later in the inning.
All told, Hughes allowed the pair of runs on six singles, one triple, and two walks in those six innings of work. He struck out six and, get this, generated eight ground ball outs compared to four in the air. What the hell is that about? The eight ground ball outs tie a season-high, which Hughes has done on three other occasions. By Game Score (54), it was Phil’s best outing in six second half starts. Fair to call this an unexpected contribution? I think so.
Is there anything more enjoyable to watch than a locked in Robinson Cano? After a 4-for-4 showing in the afternoon, Cano went 2-for-4 in the nightcap and plated the Yankees’ first run with a two-strike, two-out single to left in the third. He also made a few stellar defensive plays on balls hit up the middle. When Robbie gets hot, he gets best hitter in the world hot. That’s what he is right now.
How about Austin Romine? He went 3-for-3 with a double and scored the team’s first run on Cano’s single. One of Romine’s two singles was off the wall and maybe two feet from being a homer to right as well. It was one of those “he hit it so hard he was held to the single” jobs. Between Stewart in the first game and Romine in the second, New York’s catchers went 4-for-7 with a double and a homer on Tuesday. Unexpected contribution? Unexpected contribution.
Unsung hero: Preston Claiborne, who was with the team for the day as the doubleheader’s 26th man. He replaced Hughes with a man on first and no outs in the seventh, then retired five of the six men he faced to chip in two scoreless innings with a short bullpen. Romine threw out an attempted base-stealer for the other out. Those were two pretty big innings to bridge the gap between the Hughes and Mariano Rivera, who tossed a scoreless ninth. Mo pitched in both ends of the doubleheader.
Cano, Nix, and Romine combined for seven of the club’s eight hits. The four through seven hitters went 0-for-13 with two walks — one intentional and one unintentional. Alex Rodriguez had his worst game since coming off the DL, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a rally killing double play in the eighth. After being outrageously hot last week, Alfonso Soriano is suddenly in an 0-for-15 slump. As you probably remember from his first stint in pinstripes, Soriano is insanely streaky. He’ll come out of it soon enough.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some nerdier stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the outcome of the late game, the Yankees will be either five games (Athletics lose) or six games (Athletics win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. New York did, however, move passed the Royals in the standings with the two wins, so there are only three teams ahead of them in the race now. If the Angels manage to beat the Indians, they’ll move ahead of Cleveland by percentage points as well. Cool Standings has the Yankees postseason odds at 10.5%. Progress. Glorious progress.
Same two teams on Wednesday night, the middle day of this four-game, three-day series. Adam Warren is making the spot start in place of Andy Pettitte — the Yankees need to use a spot starter at some point in the next four days because of the doubleheader, so they’ll get it out of the way and give the veteran starters an extra day of rest in the process. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will be on the bump for Toronto. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.
Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Lehigh Valley)
- 2B David Adams: 1-5, 1 K
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 CS
- C J.R. Murphy: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B — nice game but he has struggled overall in August (.623 OPS), maybe he’s tiring a bit late in the year
- RF Ronnie Mustelier: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing) — fourth straight multi-hit game
- RHP Chase Whitley: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 4/5 GB/FB — 48 of 70 pitches were strikes (69%) … very nice spot start … he’s got three pitches, so he’s not a total fish out of the water in the rotation, but the bullpen is definitely his long-term future
- RHP Dellin Betances: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2/2 GB/FB – 25 of 40 pitches were strikes (63%) … 66/22 K/BB in 53.2 innings as a reliever at this level
Adam Warren will start Wednesday night’s game, Joe Girardi announced. The Yankees will need to use a spot starter at some point in these next four days because of the doubleheader, so they’ll get it out of the way tomorrow. Andy Pettitte will pitch Thursday, pushing Hiroki Kuroda back to Friday’s series opener against the Rays. · (9) ·
A win usually makes for a pretty good day in Yankeeland, but two wins definitely qualifies as a great day. The Bombers have a chance to sweep today’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays after using a pair of three-run homers in this afternoon’s come from behind win. Considering where they sit in the playoff race, taking two games in one day would be pretty huge. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander Mark Buehrle:
- CF Brett Gardner
- RF Vernon Wells
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Mark Reynolds
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 3B Jayson Nix
- C Austin Romine
And on the mound is right-hander Phil Hughes. The Yankees have lost his last three starts, five of his last seven starts, eight of his last eleven starts, and and 12 of his last 16 starts. It’s tough to put together any kind of lengthy winning streak with this guy going every five days. Hughes needs to pitch better in his final six weeks as a Yankee if the team wants to sneak into the postseason.
Like I said before, the weather’s great and there’s no threat of rain. Obviously Nunez’s hamstring is feeling better as well. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on My9. Enjoy.
Remember when a four-run deficit was pretty much a guaranteed loss? Thankfully those days are over. The offense picked up Ivan Nova after his rough second inning and helped the team to an 8-4 win.
Two For Three
What’s better than one three-run homer? Two three-run homers! What’s better than two three-run homers? Two three-run homers in which one was Robinson Cano‘s 200th career dinger and the other came from number nine hitter Chris Stewart (!). That blast probably earned him another month as the starting catcher, but who cares at this point? The important thing is that it turned a one-run deficit into a two-run lead in the sixth inning.
The Blue Jays jumped out to an early 4-0 lead (more on that in a bit), but Cano’s third inning blast brought the Yankees back to life. It was crushed out to dead center and pretty much classic Robbie. Stewart’s blast came with two outs and after reliever Neil Wagner walked Jayson Nix. That’s how you make them pay. If the Yankees are going to climb back into the postseason race, they’re going to need unexpected production from guys like Nix and Stewart. Those two played in a big role in this win.
One Bad Inning
During his recent run of excellent starts, Nova dominated using his fastball/curveball combo almost exclusively. He rarely broke out his slider or changeup because he simply didn’t need them. On Tuesday afternoon, we got a glimpse of what happens when half of that fastball/curveball combo isn’t working. Nova had to rely on his heater because he couldn’t locate his curve or keep it down in the zone, and the Blue Jays tagged him for four runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch in the second inning alone. Seven of the first 12 men he faced reached base.
To his credit, Nova settled down after that and followed with 4.1 scoreless innings. He retired 12 of the final 17 men he faced, and three of the five exceptions were infield singles. All told, Nova held the Jays to those four runs on eight singles, one double, and two walks in 6.1 innings. He only struck out two and, for the first time since June 23rd, he failed to complete at least seven innings of work (as a starter). That was eight starts ago. Last year, Nova gets knocked out of this game in the third or fourth inning. One of the keys to his recent success has been the ability to adjust and toss up zeroes after a rough inning. That’s a very good development.
Biggest moment of the game: Shawn Kelley getting the scorching hot Brett Lawrie to fly out to center to end the seventh inning. The bases were loaded and the tying run was in scoring position after Kelley walked two batters, but he escaped the jam. That was a huge out. Kelley has now allowed just two of 35 (!!!) inherited runners to score this year. That’s absurd. Off the charts.
Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and is now sitting on 3,999 career hits between Japan and MLB. Obviously the caliber of competition in Japan is lower than it is over here, but that’s still an awful lot of hits. He’s got 2,721 career hits in the big leagues after just 12 seasons and four and a half months. That’s nuts.
With the homer, Cano became the 15th player in franchise history with 200 long balls. He has a chance to climb into 12th place on the team’s all-time homer list before the end of the season. Robbie went 4-for-4 and doubled in an insurance run in the seventh. He was a triple shy of the cycle.
Nix (1-for-2 with two walks) and Brett Gardner (1-for-4 with a sac fly) chipped in an insurance run the bottom of the eighth. Alex Rodriguez singled and walked and is hitting .320/.414/.480 in 13 games since coming off the DL. That’s do just fine. Curtis Granderson singled and Lyle Overbay walked. The Yankees scored at least eight runs for the fifth time in their last seven games. So awesome.
Kelley (19 pitches), Boone Logan (six pitches), David Robertson (12 pitches), Joba Chamberlain (14 pitches), and Mariano Rivera (eight pitches) all appeared in the game, so their availability for the second game of the doubleheader is unclear. I don’t get the point of using Joba if his leash is one base-runner with a four-run lead in the ninth.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Check out MLB.com for the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs for some other stats, and ESPN for the updated standings. The Yankees have moved passed the Royals in the second wildcard race via percentage points. They’re six back right now, but obviously there is a whole slate of night games to be played.
Let’s play two! The Yankees and Blue Jays will play the second game of the day-night doubleheader in a few hours, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm ET.
Ryan Dempster has been suspended five games and fined an undisclosed amount for throwing at Alex Rodriguez on Sunday, the league announced. Joe Girardi was also fined for his tirade. Because the Red Sox have some off-days coming up, Dempster can serve his entire suspension and not miss a start without even filing an appeal.
MLB had to suspend Dempster for a number of reasons, first and foremost the whole “protect the players” thing. They also can’t let it be open season on A-Rod no matter how much opposing players don’t like him, and remember, Alex has accused both the Yankees and MLB of conspiring to get him out of the game. Letting Dempster go unpunished would add some validity to that claim. Anyway, it’s no surprise Dempster won’t miss a start, pitcher suspensions are always a joke. · (30) ·
No matter who you’re playing, it’s really hard to sweep a doubleheader. The Yankees split their previous two doubleheaders this season but don’t really have that luxury anymore. Every game and every win is extremely important from here on out. Sweeping the Blue Jays today would help their slim postseason chances but getting swept would nearly bury them. Their margin for error is that small. Here’s the lineup that will face right-hander Esmil Rogers:
- CF Brett Gardner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Robinson Cano
- DH Alfonso Soriano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- LF Curtis Granderson
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Jayson Nix
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is right-hander Ivan Nova, who is coming off his first shaky outing since officially rejoining the rotation in early July. He allowed just three runs in seven innings against the Angels, but they did tag him for a season-high ten hits. Shake it off.
No concerns about the weather today at all. It’ll be hot and sunny with a little bit of humidity, but no threat of rain. They won’t have any trouble getting the two games in. First pitch for the first game is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Roster Update: Preston Claiborne has rejoined the team as the 26th man for the doubleheader. By rule, he has to go back to the minors tomorrow
Injury Updates: Eduardo Nunez (hamstring) is still day-to-day, but yesterday’s MRI did come back negative. It’s still tight but they hope he can play the second game tonight … Derek Jeter (calf) will play in a simulated game and run the bases today for the first time since being placed on the DL.
Four games in three days. Thanks to a May 19th rainout, the Yankees will play their third doubleheader of the season today as the Blue Jays come to town for the third and final time in 2013. New York split their previous two doubleheaders — one with the Indians and one with the Dodgers. They’ve also won eight of nine meetings against the offseason champs so far this year, and these two clubs will play seven times in the next nine days.
What Have They Done Lately?
Like the Yankees, Toronto was off on Monday. They lost two of three to the Rays this past weekend and have dropped seven of their last eleven games. The Jays are 12-18 in the second half and 57-67 with a -37 run differential overall, good for last place in the AL East. They’re seven games back of New York in the loss column.
With an average of 4.5 runs per games with a team 99 wRC+, the Blue Jays are basically a league average offense. OF Colby Rasmus (122 wRC+) and former Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (86 wRC+) are both on the DL and will not return this series. SS Jose Reyes (117 wRC+) is day-to-day with a knee issue and could be back in the lineup as soon as this afternoon.
Manager John Gibbons’ lineup is anchored by the two big right-handed bats: 1B Edwin Encarnacion (146 wRC+) and RF Jose Bautista (134 wRC+). Encarnacion has more extra-base hits (57) and walks (65) than strikeouts (52). He’s become a truly elite power hitter these last two years. The other regulars you’ll recognize are 3B Brett Lawrie (104 wRC+), C J.P. Arencibia (70 wRC+), and DH Adam Lind (124 wRC+), who always seems to crush the Yankees.
With Cabrera and Rasmus hurt, the rest of outfield is filled out by LF Rajai Davis (83 wRC+), CF Anthony Gose (74 wRC+ in limited time), and OF Kevin Pillar (-100 wRC+ in very limited time). IF Maicer Izturis (63 wRC+) and IF Munenori Kawasaki (67 wRC+) handle middle infield duty while UTIL Mark DeRosa (104 wRC+) will sub in against southpaws. Backup C Josh Thole (33 wRC+ in limited time) rounds out the bench. Needless to say, Toronto’s lineup is much less potent without Reyes in the leadoff spot.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Tuesday Game One: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Esmil Rogers
I’m not sure who is starting what game of the doubleheader for either team, but these are the four guys getting the ball later today. Rogers, 28, has a 4.91 ERA (4.61 FIP) in 102.2 innings as a true swingman this summer — 14 starts and 23 relief appearances. His walk (2.72 BB/9 and 6.8 BB%) and ground ball (46.4%) rates are strong, but the strikeout (6.22 K/9 and 15.7 K%) and homer (1.31 HR/9 and 15.2% HR/FB) totals are not. Rogers is a two-fastball (mid-90s two and four-seamers), three-offspeed (mid-80s slider and changeup, low-80s curve) pitcher out of the rotation, and it’s worth noting he has a massive platoon split — righties have gotten him for a modest .316 wOBA while lefties have tagged him for a .389 mark. The Yankees have seen Rogers seven times since the start of last year, but never once as a starter.
Tuesday Game Two: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Mark Buehrle
The 34-year-old Buehrle has gotten over his early-season “welcome to the AL East” struggles and now owns a solid 4.29 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 25 starts. That’s pretty much the book on him, right? Solid. Buehrle has a career-high strikeout rate (6.06 K/9 and 15.6 K%) this year, but his walk rate (2.35 BB/9 and 6.1 BB%) is its highest in more than a decade as well. Still, that’s pretty good. He gets a decent amount of grounders (44.1%) but isn’t particularly adept at limiting the long ball (1.09 HR/9 and 10.6% HR/FB). Buehrle is the definition of a crafty lefty, a kitchen sink kinda guy. His two and four-seamer fastballs both sit in the mid-80s while his cutter is a touch lower in the low-80s. An upper-70s changeup and low-70s curve are his top offspeed offerings. Although he’s never had much of a platoon split, Buehrle has fared better against lefties (.288 wOBA) than righties (.338 wOBA) this season. The veteran-laden Yankees have seen former ChiSox southpaw plenty over the years, including three times a few months. They typically hit him hard.
Wednesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP R.A. Dickey
I don’t think the Blue Jays were expecting a 4.49 ERA (4.78 FIP) when they acquired the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner over the winter, but that’s exactly what the 38-year-old Dickey has given them in 26 starts. Every time it appears he’s ready to get on a roll and dominate, he throws up a clunker. Dickey’s peripherals — 6.84 K/9 (17.9 K%), 3.05 BB/9 (8.0 BB%), 1.44 HR/9 (13.0% HR/FB), and 41.0% grounders — have taken significant steps back across the boards. I guess that’s how you go from Cy Young to a mid-4.00s ERA. He’s a knuckleballer, as you know, but in the past he used two distinct knuckleballs — a soft one in the mid-70s and a harder one in the low-80s. Dickey has lost the hard knuckler for whatever reason and now consistently sits in the mid-70s with the pitch. He throws it roughly 90% of the time and will use a low-80s fastball as a get-me-over-pitch. Lefties (.355 wOBA) have hit him harder than righties (.300 wOBA). The Yankees have seen Dickey a few times over the years thanks to interleague play with the Mets, but earlier this season he held them to three runs in seven innings.
Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP J.A. Happ
Three months ago, the 30-year-old Happ was carted off the field after taking a line drive to the side of the head. He suffered a very small skull fracture, but the reason he missed so much time was a knee injury — he twisted his leg underneath him as the fell to the ground following the line drive and sprained a ligament. Happ has made three starts since returning from the DL and has pitched quite well in two of them, and overall he owns 4.93 ERA (4.09 FIP). The southpaw has missed enough bats (7.11 K/9 and 17.7 K%) and kept the ball in the park (0.73 HR/9 and 5.4% HR/FB), but his walk (4.56 BB/9 and 11.3 BB%) and ground ball (34.4%) rates are well-below-average. Happ is a five-pitch guy, sitting right around 90 mph with both his two and four-seamer. Both his slider and changeup come in in the low-80s, his curveball in the mid-70s. His platoon split (.287 vs. .335 wOBA) is modest. Happ held New York to three runs in six innings earlier this year and hasfaced them a few other times in recent seasons, including during the 2009 World Series while with the Phillies.
There has apparently been some talk of starting Adam Warren on Wednesday — the Yankees will need a spot starter no later than Saturday due to the doubleheader — and pushing everyone back, which would allow Kuroda to start against the Rays over the weekend. That’s preferable given the playoff situation and all that. They could always start Warren on Thursday or Friday instead, it doesn’t have to be Wednesday.
As I said before, the Jays were off on Monday, so their bullpen is as fresh as can be for mid-August. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (2.72 FIP) has been stellar, but primo setup man RHP Steve Delabar (2.44 FIP) is out with an elbow problem. Forgive me while I self-promote, but read this. LHP Brett Cecil (2.97 FIP) and RHP Sergio Santos (3.21 FIP in limited time) are now handling setup duties. LHP Darren Oliver (4.16 FIP), LHP Aaron Loup (3.54 FIP), RHP Neil Wagner (3.63 FIP), and RHP Brad Lincoln (5.35 FIP) fill out the rest of the seven-man relief corps.
The Yankees are in good bullpen shape thanks to yesterday’s off-day, though Warren might not be available after throwing 57 pitches on Saturday. Both Boone Logan and Shawn Kelley have made three appearances in the last five days, but neither has thrown more than nine pitches in a game since Thursday. Check out the Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage details. For the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays, check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.
The Yankees have signed RHP Edwin Fierro out of the Mexican League, reports Matt Eddy. The 19-year-old had a 3.03 ERA and 3.87 FIP in 38.2 innings for Campeche, which is pretty impressive considering the Mexican League is usually somewhere between Double-A and Triple-A. The Yankees have a knack for digging up prospects in Mexico — RHP Al Aceves, LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Gio Gallegos, for example — so Fierro might be someone worth keeping an eye on.
In other news, both RHP Bryan Mitchell and RHP Manny Barreda have been bumped up to Double-A Trenton, reports Mike Ashmore. To clear room on the roster, 1B Saxon Butler was sent to High-A Tampa and LHP Aaron Dott was placed on the DL. The Thunder are likely going to postseason, so expect them to get some reinforcements in the coming weeks. With that in mind, let’s update the standings. It’s been a while.
Triple-A Scranton (8-2 loss to Lehigh Valley) 62-68, 9.5 games back in International League North Division
- C J.R. Murphy: 0-4, 2 K — feels like he catches everyday, but he does indeed get days off once in a while
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K — threw a runner out at third
- RF Ronnie Mustelier: 2-4, 1 RBI
- RHP Chris Bootcheck: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 9/5 GB/FB — 65 of 108 pitches were strikes (60%)
I don’t know about you, but I was still pretty pumped about last night’s game when I woke up this morning. That doesn’t happen very often. Writing a recap usually gets me over a game pretty quickly, but not after something like that. All the drama of Ryan Dempster vs. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Fenway Park … all of that made for a rather intense 4+ hours. It was awesome. I couldn’t decide whether to use the Dempster vs. A-Rod video or that GIF of Joe Girardi nearly punching home plate ump Brian O’Nora, so I went with both. Why not?
Anyway, the Yankees are off today, so here is an open thread for the night. MLB Network will air a game, but who you see depends on where you live. I suspect Tri-Staters will see the Rays and Orioles, a game with implications for the Yankees. The Steelers and Redskins are your Monday Night (Preseason) Football game on ESPN, and later on ESPN2 with air the Red Sox at the Giants. Talk about any of that stuff and more right here. Enjoy.
(.GIF via Guyism)